How to be Safe
How to be Safe
The good news for parents is that you don’t need to be a web expert to help keep your child safe online, but you do need to take a few steps in order to understand your child’s online behaviour.
1. Keep an open dialogue with your child
Talking to your child about their internet behaviour is the best way to keep your child safe. As parents you most likely feel comfortable speaking to your children about bullying, road safety or stranger danger. Talking to your child about their online behaviour and safety needs to become part of your comfort zone. “Parents need to accept the challenge that for children to be children, parents need to be parents”. Without being too invasive, show an interest in your child’s favourite websites or social media platforms. Openly discuss with them the benefits and dangers of the internet. Ask them about what they do to keep themselves safe. This will enable your child to trust you and to open up to you if they face a difficult or abusive situation. In many ways treat the online world in a similar manner that you already treat the world offline.
2. Set up parenting controls
Parenting controls are useful to monitor your child’s behaviour and to block content that is not age-appropriate for your child. The younger your child is the more monitoring and supervision is necessary. Consider where the internet enabled devices (such as computers or game consoles) are placed in the house. Are you able to monitor their use and the interaction your child is having with other people through these devices? E.g., should a 9 year old have a game console in their bedroom with unsupervised access to the internet? We suggest the family computer and any internet enabled devices be placed in a public area of the house to make it easier for you to supervise their use.
If you are already following Step 1 you should be able to talk to your child about the parenting controls and explain why they are necessary.
3. Spend time with your child using the technology they use
Using the internet with your child will allow you to teach them how to use it safely. It will also allow you to get to know your child better and it will help you keep up to date with the latest apps and websites.
The internet can provide boundless learning opportunities for both you and your child. Let them lead you through their online world and show you their interests.
4. Agree on boundaries and set rules
As stated in Step 1, maintaining an open dialogue with your child is key. Once you take the initiative to discuss safe and unsafe behaviours on the internet you are showing your child it is ok to speak to you about this. Like in everything else you do with your child, the language you use will depend on the age and maturity of your child. If you do not establish boundaries and rules for your child no one will. Remember, nobody knows your child like you do.
5. Keep up to date with technology
The internet can often be an intimidating place for parents. It is not always easy to keep up to date with the latest technologies. Take the initiative to use the internet and learn about the latest technologies, apps and platforms. Platforms like ibrowsesafely.com.mt are a useful tool for parents to support and simplify this type of research
Involve your family and friends as they can give you useful insights on what to look out for. Ask them what websites or social media platforms are in fashion at the moment. Never think you know because you asked once – remember, what is trendy online today quickly becomes old news tomorrow.
6. Pay attention to age ratings when choosing activities for your child
Always check whether the website or social media platform being used by your child has an age rating or limit. When using game consoles always pay attention to the age rating on the individual games. The same applies for websites and social media platforms, e.g. a user needs to be 13 years old to use Facebook.
If you follow the these 6 Golden Rules on our homepage you will have a very good head start to help you build a positive and trusting relationship with your child and to keep them safe online.